The Chinese government's bloody crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square resulted in one of the most iconic photos ever taken: a protester blocking the path of a massive military tank entering the square. As China worked to suppress news of its violent response to the protests, the photo emerged as — and has since remained — a symbol of truth and resistance in the face of the Chinese government's authoritarian regime and attempt to censor the internet behind its "Great Firewall."
It's no surprise, then, that the photo was employed by a Reddit user earlier this year to level accusations of censorship against the platform. TechCrunch reported in February that Reddit had secured a new round of funding, including $150 million from the massive Chinese investment firm Tencent. Tencent runs some of the biggest social platforms in China, and has adhered to the government's strict censorship demands.
Immediately, Reddit users responded with criticism of the platform for accepting money from a company in China, where Reddit is blocked, and raised concern that Tencent would be able to censor content posted on the platform. Although it's highly unlikely Tencent will have any say in what's posted to Reddit, users flooded the platform with content that would be censored in China, including Winnie the Pooh memes mocking China's president and pictures from Tienanmen Square.
For its part, Reddit helped to assuage censorship concerns by letting the Tienanmen Square post be officially dubbed the most-upvoted Reddit post of 2019. But the post's massive popularity in itself shows just how much the core Reddit community prides itself on being the biggest and loudest trolls across the internet.
Past moves by Reddit to remove harmful and controversial content from its site have been met with incessant trolling and backlash from the the most ardent users, who argue the platform is a lawless place where free speech reigns supreme.
Given that reddit just took a $150 million investment from a Chinese censorship powerhouse, I thought it would be nice to post this picture of "Tank Man" at Tienanmen Square before our new glorious overlords decide we cannot post it anymore. from r/pics